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Nearly 20 percent of Minnesota spend half their incomes on rent

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A new report finds low wage renters in Minnesota are having more trouble affording their rental housing. It also finds Minnesota's rental costs for lower wage workers are the least affordable in the Midwest.

Minnesota Housing Partnership executive director Chip Halbach said statistics from the Census and Department of Housing and Urban Development show about a fifth of Minnesota renters are spending half or more of their income on rent. 

Hallbach said a worker with a family needs a full-time job paying more than $15 an hour to afford the average two-bedroom apartment. But Hallbach says the typical renter in Minnesota earns just over $11 an hour. 

"Those households that are paying over half their income for rent are typically spending about 50 percent less on health care and about 40 percent less on food than are families that have affordable amounts of income going for rent," he said. "So that points out the kind of tradeoffs or sacrifices people are in that pay high percentages of their income for rent."

He said rising costs and stagnant or dropping wages are putting more stress on families.

"Showing up at work on time, making sure the kids are doing well at school and all of those other components of life don't work nearly as well if you're not stable in your housing," Hallbach said.

Hallbach said a worker with a family needs a full-time job paying more than $15 an hour to afford the average two-bedroom apartment. But Hallbach says the typical renter in Minnesota earns just over $11 an hour. 

The St. Paul-based Minnesota Housing Partnership is an advocacy group.